About 10 minutes before we pulled into the parking lot Matt casually mentioned he was hoping the path didn’t have too much snow on it. We were out in Independence, MN to run a nice 6.2 mile loop, and assuming things went well we were going to get two laps in. We did one, kind of on the path.
After a couple of weeks of our schedules not matching up I was finally able to take Matt up on his offer to get in a Sunday run. I was a little nervous, Matt is way faster than I and I never run with other people. This was probably the third or fourth time I have specifically run with a person or group in the almost two years I have been running. I think that is one of the best things about running, you need your running gear and time – that’s it. No trying to coordinate schedules, no needing a specific place to play; just shoes, shorts, shirt and go.
The path didn’t look promising, at least the path to get to the path, it was covered in 6-8 inches of snow with a couple sets of tracks from others that had walked it. This was not fluffy white, freshly fallen snow. This was snow that has melted and refroze everyday the past week. So you get a thin layer of ice and clumpy uneven snow underneath. The kind of snow that crunches when you walk, terrible – terrible noise, and tests your knees and ankles stability. This is what you get in March in Minnesota, Uh oh.
The good news, it looked like the loop had been “groomed”. Much like a ski hill gets groomed to take out the bumps and even things out the cross-country ski trail and the loop trail looked like they had work done, so Matt and I decided to give it a go. For the first 3ish miles it was much the same, tread lightly stay on top of the ice layer give those stabilizer muscles a workout and enjoy the wintery scene. Then suddenly the groomed trail stopped, and we were back to 6 – 8 inches on uneven snow described above. For reasons that you won’t get if you don’t run, we decided to keep going anyway.
For a good half mile we slogged single file through the snow, our pace slowed but we keep it moving, again no idea why we thought this was reasonable or how neither of us ended up with a sprained ankle or knee. But we made it to a point where the path intersected the cross-country skiing trail again and since it was groomed we decided that would be preferrable. I will say the experience gave me a new appreciation for those that do trail running. The uneven footing and constant changing of the elevation was both exhausting and made the time go by incredibly fast. We put in one full loop and agreed it was time to take our run to the streets. After running though the snow running on the asphalt felt really odd, or maybe it was just all the muscles in my legs that I take for granted revolting against me. Either way I was able to get four more miles out of them, and even walk to the park and back with my daughter this afternoon.
Ten miles for the day, a chance to catch up with a friend (plus get some running tips) and a new appreciation for people who can run where there isn’t a smooth road made for a good Sunday. Looking back I am still not sure why we decided to run the trail, but I am glad we did, maybe there is something to this running with others thing.